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Arrow Eye on Extremism December 20, 2018

Eye on Extremism
December 20, 2018

The Wall Street Journal: In Shift, Trump Orders Troops Out Of Syria

“President Trump ordered a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Syria, officials said Wednesday, marking an abrupt shift of the U.S.’s posture in the Middle East. The U.S. immediately began moving a handful of personnel from Syria and will quickly extract about 2,000 forces over the next few weeks, officials said, ending a four-year military campaign against Islamic State on the brink of its defeat. “The Pentagon has an order to move troops out of Syria as quickly as possible,” a U.S. official said. The decision recasts U.S. policy in the Middle East, where the Trump administration has been working to defeat Islamic State, contain Iran’s expansionist ambitions and counter Russia’s influence in Syria, where Moscow has a vital Navy base. The planned exit also worried the U.S.’s Kurdish partners, who risk losing vital backing just when Turkey is threatening to attack them.”

The Washington Post: The Islamic State Remains A Deadly Insurgent Force, Analysts Say, Despite Trump’s Claim It Has Been Defeated

“Late last month, a column of Islamic State fighters in armored vehicles and on motorcycles thundered into eastern Syria to mount an unexpectedly fierce assault on U.S.-backed militias near the city of Deir al-Zour. The attackers overran multiple outposts and killed or captured dozens of soldiers before being driven back by U.S. warplanes. The next day, in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, a roadside bomb killed four children as they traveled to their village school by truck. Local officials described the event as tragic but not surprising: The same province has experienced about 17 such attacks every month in the year since the Islamic State was officially declared defeated in Iraq. An attack such as the one in eastern Syria reinforces a view that is widely held among U.S. military and intelligence officials, as well as U.S. allies in region: Even as the territory claimed by the Islamic State continues to shrink, the group remains a powerful and deadly force across large swaths of Syria and Iraq. In some regions, the Islamist militants appear to be gaining ground, reconstituting themselves as a brutal insurgency bent on killing local leaders and police officers and terrorizing populations, officials and analysts say.”

New York Post: Man Who Plotted ISIS-Inspired Bombing In Times Square Gets 40 Years

“A Manhattan judge imposed a 40-year prison sentence on a Canadian man who admitted to plotting ISIS-inspired bomb attacks on Times Square and city subways. Citing Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy’s mental health and addiction issues federal Judge Richard Berman sentenced the 20-year-old to less than the life sentence sought by prosecutors. Still, the man’s mother cried out, “You have no justice! This is a sick boy! This is crazy! This is not justice!” before two court officers escorted her out of the courtroom. El Bahnasawy pleaded guilty to the crimes in October 2016 after he and two accomplices were brought down by an undercover agent posing as an ISIS supporter to whom they revealed their plot. Lawyers for El Bahnasawy argued for a lenient sentence that would allow him to receive treatment since he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and addicted to drugs since he was 14. “The United States Bureau of Prisons cannot provide the treatment that this young man needs,” said lawyer Andrew Frisch. The attorney argued that El Bahnasawy no longer sympathizes with ISIS since receiving mental health treatment. El Bahnasawy asked the judge for a second chance. “I am continually changing from the person I used to be. I am nowhere near my mentality from before,” Bahnasawy said.”

France 24: Bolstered By Iran, Hezbollah 'Capable Of Destruction On A Whole New Scale'

“Amid an ongoing Israeli operation to find and destroy a Hezbollah cross-border tunnel network, the Lebanese Shia militia poses a greater threat than ever to the Jewish state, strengthened by growing support from Iran and combat experience in Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried Hezbollah’s development of a network of tunnels across the Lebanon-Israel border on Wednesday, describing it as an “act of war”. Netanyahu’s speech came after the discovery on Sunday of a fourth Hezbollah tunnel infiltrating Israeli territory from across the Lebanese border. Israel’s military launched an ongoing military operation on December 4 to locate and eliminate all such tunnels. But the cross-border subterranean network is merely one manifestation of the threat Hezbollah poses to Israel. Observers say that thanks to significantly bolstered manpower, resources and fighting experience, the Lebanese militant group has strengthened considerably since its 2006 war with the Jewish state. “Hezbollah is the biggest strategic threat Israel now faces,” Ely Karmon, a defence and security analyst at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, told FRANCE 24. A key element behind this is the fact that “Hezbollah is now way better equipped, so it has the capabilities to create destruction on a completely different scale from what we saw in 2006,” added Yossi Mekelberg,”

The Guardian: Violating Our Privacy Is In Facebook's DNA

“One would think by now that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg lacks principles. Since early 2017 he has been caught lying about such basic matters as whether Facebook users have control over the data they generate and has repeatedly failed to confront the damage his company has done to people, democracy and social fabrics around the world. Yet Zuckerberg has two core principles from which he has never wavered. They are the founding tenets of Facebook. First, the more people use Facebook for more reasons for more time of the day the better those people will be. As I documented in my book, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy, Zuckerberg truly believes that Facebook benefits humanity and we should use it more, not less. What’s good for Facebook is good for the world and vice-versa. Second, Zuckerberg deeply believes that the records of our interests, opinions, desires, and interactions with others should be shared as widely as possible so that companies like Facebook can make our lives better for us – even without our knowledge or permission. Privacy, Zuckerberg believes, renders us inauthentic. After all, Facebook knows what’s best for us.”

Deutsche Welle: Berlin Terror Attack: Germany Grapples With Unanswered Questions Two Years On

“Politicians gathered at Berlin's Breitscheidplatz on Wednesday to lay wreaths in remembrance of the 12 people who lost their lives in the 2016 terror attack on the square's Christmas market. While anniversary commemorations focused on the victims and their loved ones, German lawmakers are still trying to piece together the puzzle around the attacker Anis Amri. German authorities knew about him long before he stole a semi truck, killed the driver and finally drove the vehicle into an unprotected Christmas market at Berlin's Breitscheidplatz. More than 60 people were wounded, some of whom seriously, in the attack on December 19, 2016. Amri, a rejected asylum-seeker from Tunisia, was later shot to death by authorities in Italy while on the run. Already in 2017, special investigator Bruno Jost, who was commissioned by the Berlin Senate to investigate the case, wondered why the previously convicted and rejected asylum-seeker was still at large, despite his status as a known drug dealer. So far, no one has come up with a plausible answer — neither the state inquiries in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia nor the parliamentary inquiry set up by the Bundestag in March have found a reason.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Syria-Iran Retreat

“President Trump startled the world Wednesday, and overrode some of his own advisers, by announcing an abrupt withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria. The decision may fulfill a campaign promise, and it may be popular with many Americans. But Mr. Trump is also sending an Obama-like signal of retreat that will have damaging consequences for his Iran strategy and U.S. interests. The President announced the withdrawal in a tweet that took credit for defeating Islamic State, which he said was “my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” Mission accomplished? Not so fast. Give Mr. Trump credit for accelerating the coalition campaign against ISIS and erasing its claim to be a territorial caliphate. Yet ISIS still holds ground on the border of Syria and Iraq, and it has regrouped into smaller cells waiting for the military space to re-form. Barack Obama also declared victory over Sunni extremists when he withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq. Islamic State formed in the vacuum.”

Today: Mom Of Slain Journalist James Foley Speaks Out On Fight For Justice

“Four years after the death of James Foley, the American journalist executed at the hands of the Islamic State group, his alleged kidnappers still haven’t been put on trial. NBC’s Keir Simmons met with Foley’s mother and a fellow hostage to investigate why.”

CNN: Graham On Syria: This Is A High-Risk Strategy

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticizes President Donald Trump's decision for a withdrawal of US troops from Syria, comparing it to former President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw from Iraq.”


he New York Times: The Dangers Of Calling ‘Mission Accomplished’ In Syria

“The United States is at risk of another “Mission Accomplished” moment. On Wednesday, President Trump declared by tweet, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency.” President Trump is right that the United States has made tremendous progress against the Islamic State, and we’ve been honored to support that mission from the White House across two administrations as senior counterterrorism officials. But the Islamic State has not been “defeated” — and our mission in Syria has not been fully accomplished. The recent Christmas market terrorist attack in Strasbourg, France, that left five dead and at least a dozen injured serves as an all-too-vivid reminder that the threat posed by the Islamic State persists. With the attacker dead, the Islamic State has now claimed the attack as its own. Thankfully, these types of jihadist terrorist attacks in the West have become notably rarer and smaller in scale than they were even just three years ago, when horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., cast a pall over the 2015 holiday season.”

Fox News: Syrian Kurds Allied With US Shocked, Scared By News Of Troop Withdrawal

“Wednesday's surprise announcement that the U.S. will quickly withdraw all its troops from Syria is the stuff of nightmares for many of the Kurds living under the protection of U.S forces and the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “Everyone is upset, sad and afraid,” one SDF member from the Kurdish-dominant Syrian city of Kobane told Fox News. “It’s a historic mistake. We wanted to be part of America. We are surrounded by enemies, and ISIS isn’t even finished yet.” Most who spoke to Fox News were scared to use their names or publish their faces, in case the Assad-controlled Syrian regime retakes the area and retaliates against those who have spoken out. But most of all, the millions in the region left in limbo are concerned about strikes from the Turkish side of the border. “Everyone is confused and scared. This will mean that Turkey will likely attack us. We are in shock because we thought the U.S. would help us achieve peace after ISIS. We didn’t think that they would help us defeat the terrorists and then leave us alone to face the horror of Turkish forces and its extreme factions,” lamented Mazloum Kurdy, a 33-year-old father and teacher from Kobane. “Now people are thinking to displace themselves from their homes here again, but nobody knows where a safe place to go is.”

The New York Times: U.S. Exit Seen As A Betrayal Of The Kurds, And A Boon For ISIS

“The day that President Trump ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, the Islamic State claimed that it had set off a bomb in Raqqa, the group’s former capital, killing a Kurdish fighter. It was a small, isolated attack, but the Islamic State’s boast was a canny assertion of the stakes in the American withdrawal — and an indication that the group was looking forward to exploiting a changed reality in Syria. The United States withdrawal announced Wednesday is seen by analysts as an abandonment of America’s key allies in Syria, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and a boon for the Islamic State — which still controls territory in southeastern Syria, is believed to still have thousands of fighters there and has continued to carry out attacks. The withdrawal is also expected to give a green light to Turkey to carry out its threatened invasion of northeastern Syria, a move likely to draw Kurdish forces from the fight against the Islamic State in the southeast. Whether or not the Islamic State can rebound, after being driven out of most of its territory in Iraq and Syria, for now it is the Kurdish minority that is caught in the middle. The Kurdish leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces refrained from reacting to the announced withdrawal immediately, with many saying they were waiting to learn the details.”


USA Today: Trump Reversal On Syria Policy Means Big Gains For Iran

“The Trump administration announced Wednesday that all 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria will start returning home very soon. President Donald Trump, who had long expressed his discomfort with an extended military deployment in Syria, explained his decision in a tweet: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” The decision carries implications for the administration’s Iran policy, as Tehran and its client, the Assad regime, are poised to take advantage of the American withdrawal. In September, Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, stated the U.S. would not leave Syria “as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.” The sudden reversal of this declared policy could have serious consequences for U.S. strategy in the region. The Iranians have been working to establish a so-called “land bridge” or territorial continuum stretching from Tehran to the Mediterranean via Iraq and Syria. At present, the U.S.-controlled zone in eastern Syria poses a major obstacle to this objective. Already, Iranian-led Shiite militias are operating at the edges of the U.S. zone and could move in swiftly and connect the Iraqi and Syrian terrains.”

Newsweek: Iran's Ballistic Missile Test Shows U.S. Defense Of Middle East Allies Must Change. Here's How | Opinion

“Iran’s recent nuclear-capable ballistic missile test exploded three myths popular in Washington: that missile development was forbidden by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; that Saudi Arabia’s reckless and heinous killing of Jamal Khashoggi represents the most pressing regional threat to the United States; and that U.S. sanctions are addressing Iran’s growing missile threat. The United States should offer a more robust approach to addressing that threat, including developing a regional missile defense capability for our Middle Eastern partners. The Senate just voted last week to cease U.S. support for the Saudi-backed coalition against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, capping over two months of rising condemnation by U.S. lawmakers over Saudi Arabia’s killing of Khashoggi. The rhetoric and resolution have suggested this killing trumped all the killings the Tehran regime perpetuates inside Iran, as well as in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, of regular people not fortunate enough to be Washington Post columnists. And it ignored Iran’s conventional and nuclear threat.”

Arab News: With Fresh Sanctions And Increasing Isolation, 2018 Was The Year Iran Was Tamed

“With US sanctions heaping further pain on Iran’s deteriorating economy, 2018 has been widely viewed by political analysts as the year Tehran was tamed. Sanctions enforced last month have left Iran’s shipping, banking, oil, energy and shipbuilding industries floundering. In the fallout, the Iranian rial has lost more than a quarter of its value against the dollar, sending the prices of food and other basic commodities soaring. “The US sanctions on Iran are intended, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared, to choke off funds that the regime uses to support its malign activities in the region,” said Dr Albadr Al-Shateri, politics professor at the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi. “The second purpose is to target Iranian elites who line their pockets at the expense of Iranians’ welfare. Finally, the sanctions bring maximum pressure on the ruling regime to change its behavior.”

Times Of Israel: Albania Expels Iranian Diplomats Over Foiled Plot To Attack Israelis — Report

“Albania said it has expelled two Iranian diplomats for alleged illegal activities that threaten the country’s security, reportedly related to a plot to attack an Israeli soccer match. A spokesman from the Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the two diplomats were expelled for “violating their diplomatic status.” The spokesman said the move followed talks with other countries, including Israel. Private Top Channel television said the Iranians are suspected of illegal activities related to a World Cup qualification soccer match between Albania and Israel two years ago. About 20 people were arrested in Albania and Kosovo following that match, which was threatened with an alleged terrorist attack. Albanian officials would not confirm that report. The planned attack in November 2016 was said to have been coordinated by two Albanians in Syria fighting with the Islamic State group. The World Cup qualifier was originally due to take place in the northern town of Shkodra. The match eventually took place in Elbasan, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the Albanian capital Tirana, under a massive security presence. It’s unclear what connection Iran, which is traditionally seen as an enemy of the Islamic State, may have had to the attack plot. There was no immediate comment from Israeli officials. In May, a Kosovo court sentenced eight Albanians to jail over the foiled attack and fined another.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: After Shedding ISIS, Mosul Embraces Makeovers

“For three years, Mosul's women were covered in black and its men had to keep their beards long. Salons were shut, and plastic surgery considered a crime. But more than a year after the Islamic State group's ouster, the Iraqi city is flaunting its more fabulous side. Need to zap away a scar or a burn? Cover up a bald spot with implants? Whiten teeth for a dazzling smile? Mosul's plastic surgeons and beauticians are at your service. Raji Najib, a Syrian living in Mosul, recently made use of the city's aesthetic offerings. The 40-year-old had long been self-conscious of his bald spots, until his Iraqi friends told him what had worked for them -- hair implants at a new clinic in their hometown. "They told me the equipment was modern, the nurses competent and the prices good," Najib said. In Mosul, the average hair implant procedure costs around $800, including the follow-up after the operation. Nearly 90 kilometers to the east in Iraq's Arbil, or even further north in Turkey, the same operation costs at least $1,200. Plasma injections to prevent hair loss cost around $63 in Mosul, but at least $20 more in Arbil. In addition to the difference in price, Najib would have had to put up money and time for travel. "Going to a clinic in Mosul is much easier, as I don't have time to travel outside Mosul," he told AFP. Decades ago, only one department in Mosul's hospitals offered plastic surgery, and only to those who had a severe accident or were trying to eliminate a physical handicap from birth.”


The Guardian: Nephew Of Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gülen Jailed On Terrorism Charges

“A nephew of the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen – the US-based exile whom the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt – has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on related terrorism charges, despite the fact the two have only met once. Selman Gülen was found guilty in an Ankara court on Tuesday of being a member of his uncle’s Feto movement after prosecutors asked for a sentence of between seven-and-a-half to 15 years. Selman Gülen denied the allegations, telling the court he had only met his uncle once in his life and that he believed he had been charged simply for being a relative of the cleric, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. The younger Gülen was arrested in August 2016 at his home in Istanbul, where police said three mobile phones, hard drives and paper documents containing information related to Feto were seized. Advertisement Prosecutors also accused him of using encrypted Turkish messaging app ByLock to help plot the July 2016 military coup attempt that left 260 people dead. Turkey maintains that ByLock was instrumental to the planning and execution of the failed coup. The state has used user profiles as evidence in thousands of terrorism and treason trials since, although human rights groups point out it was discontinued four months before the coup took place. Almost 218,000 people have been held or tried for their alleged links to the attempt to oust Turkey’s ppresident, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the country’s interior ministry said last month.”

Al Arabiya: Turkey Releases Most Wanted ISIS Woman Three Days After Arrest

“Aysenur Inci, a Turkish citizen with around $300.000 bounty on her head for links to ISIS organization, has been released three days after she was apprehended by Turkish border police, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported. The report added that Inci was arrested while entering Turkey from Iraq at the Habur border last Saturday. She was released on Tuesday on condition of judicial controls after providing testimony to Turkish police, the newspaper said. Inci is a part of Turkey’s “Blue List,” a designation assigned to individuals defined as terrorists who are deemed to be members of a group that poses the second highest level of threat to the country. “There is no threat from Daesh (ISIS) any more, it is a fantasy,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week, according to Ahvalnews.”


The Washington Post: Taliban Say Talks Focused On US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

“The latest talks between the Taliban and a U.S. peace envoy on the war in Afghanistan focused on the withdrawal of NATO troops, the release of prisoners and halting attacks on civilians by pro-government forces, a Taliban spokesman said Wednesday. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who tweeted that talks held this week in the United Arab Emirates were “productive,” was in Pakistan on Wednesday to meet with the chief of the country’s army before heading to the Afghan capital Kabul later in the day. The UAE talks also involved Saudi, Pakistani and Emirati representatives. The Taliban have refused to meet directly with the Afghan government, viewing it as a puppet of the U.S. The insurgent group controls nearly half of Afghanistan, and are more powerful than at any time since a 2001 U.S.-led invasion. They carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces and government officials. In a significant development, three representatives of the Haqqani network — Hafiz Yahya, Saadullah Hamas and Dr. Faqeer, who goes only by a single name — were also present at the talks, according to a Taliban official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks. This would be the first time a U.S. envoy has met with representatives of the Haqqani network, declared a terrorist group by Washington and considered one of the most lethal fighting forces in Afghanistan. Although part of the Taliban, the Haqqani network has its own military committee.”

Radio Free Europe: Key Taliban Commander Killed In Eastern Afghanistan

“A key Taliban commander has been killed in an operation conducted by Afghan government forces in the country's east, the Defense Ministry says. A ministry spokesman said Bilal Zadran was killed in the eastern province of Paktika late on December 18. Zadran was the head of the Taliban's special forces, also known as the Red Unit, for the provinces of Ghazni, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, and Logar, according to the spokesman, Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed. Jawed said Zadran had played a major role in destabilizing the five eastern provinces. The targeting of top Taliban commanders in Afghanistan is part of a strategy to apply heavier battlefield pressure on the extremist group and to eliminate militant field commanders seen as major obstacles to possible peace talks. Abdul Manan, the shadow Taliban governor of the province of Helmand and the militants' top military commander in southern Afghanistan, was killed in a joint operation by U.S. and Afghan special forces on December 2. Over the following days, the Taliban shadow governors of Ghor and Paktika Provinces were also killed in separate operations.”


The Wall Street Journal: China’s ‘Belt And Road’ Plan In Pakistan Takes A Military Turn

“When President Trump started the new year by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan, one theory was that it would scare the Pakistani military into cooperating better with its American allies. The reality was that Pakistan already had a replacement sponsor lined up. Just two weeks later, the Pakistani Air Force and Chinese officials were putting the final touches on a secret proposal to expand Pakistan’s building of Chinese military jets, weaponry and other hardware. The confidential plan, reviewed by The New York Times, would also deepen the cooperation between China and Pakistan in space, a frontier the Pentagon recently said Beijing was trying to militarize after decades of playing catch-up. All those military projects were designated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries, built and financed by Beijing.”


Reuters: As U.N. Mulls How To Back Yemen Truce, U.S. Wants To Call Out Iran

“The United States wants the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran in a draft resolution being negotiated to back a ceasefire deal in Yemen’s Hodeidah region, but Russia has rejected the move, diplomats said on Wednesday. After a week of U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Sweden, the Iranian-aligned Houthi group and Saudi-backed Yemen government foes agreed last Thursday to stop fighting in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah and withdraw forces. The truce began on Tuesday. The 15-member Security Council is now considering a British-drafted resolution to endorse the deal and ask U.N. chief Antonio Guterres to submit proposals on how to monitor the ceasefire and redeployment of forces. The initial draft text, seen by Reuters, condemns “the supply, from whatever source, of weapons and associated materiel in contravention of the arms embargo provisions,” but does not name any countries. The United States wants to specifically condemn Iran, according to diplomats and a revised draft seen by Reuters, but Russia has objected to the language. Diplomats have said the aim is to try to adopt a resolution this week.”

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: Saudi Arabia Participates In Forum Against Terrorism

“Saudi Arabia, represented by Mohammed bin Naif Center for Counseling and Care and General Directorate of Combating Extremism of the Ministry of Interior, took part in a workshop organized by the 9th session of the Global Counterterrorism Forum held in Melbourne, Australia. The governments of Indonesia and Australia co-chaired the event. Saudi officials highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in combating terrorism and the strategies the country has adopted to fight the menace. Saudi Arabia has implemented systems to follow UN Security Council sanctions on groups and individuals linked to Daesh and Al-Qaeda, and has expanded existing counterterrorism programs and projects to rehabilitate terrorist fighters.”


The New York Times: Israel Calls For International Action Against Hezbollah Tunnels

“Hezbollah has committed “an act of war” by digging tunnels under Israel’s border with Lebanon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, calling on the United Nations to halt what he called a “grave violation” of Israel’s sovereignty. Speaking at a news conference ahead of a United Nations Security Council discussion about the tunnels, Mr. Netanyahu demanded that Lebanon take action and called on the council to order the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to “deepen its operations.” The Security Council discussion pushed by Israel and the United States and the news conference were both part of a campaign by Mr. Netanyahu’s government to attract international attention to the issue. For more than two weeks, an Israeli military operation has exposed and blocked tunnels dug by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that is backed by Iran. Israel has portrayed this as part of a broader regional effort to curb Iran’s influence. “This is not merely an act of aggression. It’s an act of war,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters at Israel’s Parliament. “It is part of a war plan, I would say,” he added, referring to Hezbollah’s suggestions that its fighters would try to infiltrate Israel in a future conflict. “Their goal,” he said, “has been to penetrate our territory, to kidnap our people, including civilians, murder civilians and conquer the northern piece of the Galilee,” referring to areas of northern Israel that border Lebanon.”

The National: US Warns Of Growing Hezbollah Influence As Lebanon Nears Agreement On New Government

“The US called on Lebanon to set up a government soon, after Lebanese officials on Tuesday said the country was on track to form a new Cabinet in the coming days. Lebanon has been without a government since elections held in May. Officials in Beirut accused Hezbollah of delaying progress because of its demand that its Sunni allies be represented in government – a demand that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri rejected. Hezbollah and its allies in the Amal Movement said on Tuesday that Lebanon is on track to form a new government in the next few days. Unidentified Hezbollah sources told Lebanon’s Al Markaziya news agency that the main snag had been resolved after President Michel Aoun agreed to cede one of his bloc’s seats in government to Hezbollah-allied Sunni MPs. "We hope Lebanon's next government will build a stable and secure Lebanon that is committed to peace, responsive to the needs of the Lebanese people and working with the United States on areas of mutual interest," a US State Department official told Reuters on Tuesday. "We continue to have deep concerns regarding Hezbollah's growing political power inside Lebanon," the official said. "We are concerned about the efforts of Hezbollah's political allies that provide it with top cover and a veneer of legitimacy.”

Middle East
BS-CBN News: PH Among Top 10 Countries 'Most Impacted' By Terrorism: Report

“Experiencing its highest number of deaths related to terrorist incidents in more than a decade, the Philippines entered the top 10 list of countries "most impacted" by terrorism, according to an international peace and conflict think tank. The Philippines ranked 10th in the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, higher by two places. The index takes into account the number of terrorist incidents in the country, the number of deaths from these incidents, and the scale of their physical and psychological effects. Dubbed among the list's "emerging hotspots of terrorism," the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia in the top 10, which was topped by Iraq. Other countries in the top 10 are Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, and Egypt. The GTI report listed 326 people killed in the Philippines due to terrorist incidents last year, the highest number of deaths in the country since 2002. It was also rated 8th among countries with the highest increases in terrorism deaths worldwide.”


The New Yorker: The Women Rescued From Boko Haram Who Are Returning To Their Captors

“Around 6:30 p.m. on an evening in April, 2013, Aisha Yerima was at her home in Banki, a town in northeast Nigeria. Aisha was twenty-one, slim and dark-skinned, her face wrapped in a hijab. She had been raised in Maiduguri, the nearby capital of Borno state, and, unlike many girls in the region, she had attended the Government Girls Secondary School. “I am educated,” she boasted to me, recently. When she graduated, at fifteen, her family married her off to a man named Mustapha. But after seven years the couple divorced, and Mustapha took custody of their three-year-old son. Aisha was preparing to move back in with her parents, and she was chatting with her former in-laws about the move when she heard gunshots. She looked out the window and saw militants from the jihadist group Boko Haram advancing on a unit of Nigerian soldiers, who were stationed in town and appeared to be outnumbered. As the militants fired on the buildings, residents scrambled for safety. In the chaos, Aisha ran in a different direction from her ex-husband and child. She made her way to a grove of trees and hid for what seemed like hours, panting and praying. That evening, the militants found her and loaded her onto a truck bed, along with dozens of women and children. “I was among those captured and taken away into the forest,” she said. Since its founding in northern Nigeria, in 2002, Boko Haram has razed villages and massacred townspeople in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region, which is largely Muslim.”

Pulse Nigeria: Boko Haram Factional Leader's Wife Arrested With Bomb

“Ibrahim, The Borno Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC), said one of the two female Boko Haram bombers nabbed by the command is a wife of Mamman Nur, a factional leader of the terrorist group. The teenager who was identified as Fatima Muhammed Kabir, was arrested recently, along with another woman, Amina Salihu at Borno Express Motor Park. Their mission was to carry out an Improvised Explosive Device attack in Maiduguri, the women disclosed during interrogation. Ibrahim disclosed that an NSDCC official who posed as a captured Boko Haram Amir was the one that interviewed the women. The commandant spoke at the commissioning of the newly donated equipment by the U.S Department of state on Wednesday in Maiduguri. Ibrahim said many Boko Haram members have surrendered their arms and renounced their campaign of terror, through the command’s civil approach to issues. “More than 40 Boko Haram members have surrendered through the command. We have handed them over to the military for rehabilitation under the Operation Safe Corridor. “We are able to convince them to surrender their arms and accept meaningful de-radicalisation and reintegration opportunity offered them by the government. “During their stay in the command, they said they are now praying five times in a day as against when they are fighting in the forest,” he said.”


Bloomberg: Morocco Says Extremist Militant Suspected In Tourist Killings

“Morocco arrested a suspect belonging to an extremist group over the killing of two Scandinavian backpackers in the outskirts of the country’s main tourist attraction, days before the busy Christmas holiday season. The country’s prosecutor general said in a statement that security services were seeking to arrest an unspecified number of people also identified as suspects in the slaying of a Dane and a Norwegian earlier this week near Marrakesh. The bodies of the two women were found near their camp Monday in Imlil, a village tucked in the Atlas mountains, a popular attraction for trekkers and mountain-climbers. State news agency MAP said the two died from wounds inflicted to the neck with a blade-like weapon. Investigators are also probing the authenticity of a video circulating on social media which appears to document the killing of the two tourists, the prosecutor general added. Morocco, a relative haven of stability in the region, relies heavily on tourism for jobs and foreign currency. The last terror attack was in 2011 when 17 predominantly French tourists died after a radical militant detonated a homemade bomb in a busy cafe in the heart of Marrakesh. Security services have arrested dozens of purported militants since then for allegedly plotting attacks in the country.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisia Dismantles Terror Cell Plotting Attacks On Security Forces

“Tunisia announced on Wednesday the dismantling of a terrorist cell that was plotting attacks against the security forces, said the Interior Ministry. Most of the members of the cell, dubbed the Brigade of Jihad and Unity, were arrested and were being held in prison, the ministry said in a statement according to Reuters. The cell had pledged allegiance to an unidentified militant group abroad and planned attacks targeting security posts and patrols in the central province of Sidi Bouzid, it said. An explosive belt, grenades and bomb-making material were seized during the operation, it added. Tunisia has been on high security alert since 2015 when ISIS gunmen killed 38 tourists in a museum in the capital and on a beach in the resort city of Sousse. Since then security has improved with only sporadic smaller attacks, allowing the vital tourism industry to recover as foreigners have returned to Tunisia’s Mediterranean beaches. Authorities say more than 3,000 Tunisians have left to fight for terror groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Many of them have been killed in battle while others have been jailed or put under house arrest after returning to Tunisia.”

Time: Denmark's Prime Minister Called The Tourist Killings In Morocco An 'Act Of Terror'

“Denmark’s prime minister says the killings of two Scandinavian tourists in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains can be considered “politically motivated and thus an act of terror.” Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Thursday that “there are still dark forces that want to fight our values” and “we must not give in.” He also confirmed the victims’ identities as Louisa Vesterager Jespersen of Denmark, and Maren Ueland from Norway. One person was arrested Tuesday and a Moroccan prosecutor said the suspect has affiliations to a terrorist group, without naming it. Three other suspects are still on the run. The killing has shocked Morocco, a popular tourist destination where attacks on foreigners are extremely rare. The women’s bodies were found Monday in the Atlas Mountains, an area prized by hikers.”

North Korea

Associated Press: N. Korea Says It Won’t Denuclearize Unless US Removes Threat

“North Korea said Thursday it will never unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons unless the United States first removes what Pyongyang called a nuclear threat. The surprisingly blunt statement jars with Seoul’s rosier presentation of the North Korean position and could rattle the fragile trilateral diplomacy to defuse a nuclear crisis that last year had many fearing war. The latest from North Korea comes as the United States and North Korea struggle over the sequencing of the denuclearization that Washington wants and the removal of international sanctions desired by Pyongyang. The statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency also raises credibility problems for the liberal South Korean government, which has continuously claimed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is genuinely interested in negotiating away his nuclear weapons as Seoul tries to sustain a positive atmosphere for dialogue. The North’s comments may also be seen as proof of what outside skeptics have long said: that Kim will never voluntarily relinquish an arsenal he sees as a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurances the United States might provide.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Uber Driver Acquitted Of Buckingham Palace Terror Charge

“An Uber driver has been found not guilty of a terror charge after attacking police officers with a 42in sword outside Buckingham Palace. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 27, of Luton, was unanimously acquitted at the Old Bailey of one allegation of preparing acts of terrorism after a retrial. Mr Chowdhury told jurors he only wanted to be killed by police and did not intend to harm anyone in August 2017. Two officers suffered cuts to their hands when they fought to disarm him. Jurors heard the officers - who were unarmed - feared for their lives during the "surreal" confrontation on 25 August last year, as Mr Chowdhury repeatedly shouted "Allahu Akbar", which means "God is greatest" in Arabic. On Wednesday, Mr Chowdhury bit his lip, raised his eyebrows and then saluted the jurors after they spent 11 hours and 36 minutes considering the verdict. Jurors heard Mr Chowdhury, of Kirkwood Road, Luton, was born in London to a "close and supportive family" but became "self-radicalised" through watching Islamic State propaganda online. The defendant told the court he was upset at the government's role in arming Saudi Arabia and felt responsible for the deaths of innocent people in Yemen. Mr Chowdhury had left his sister a suicide note expressing his hatred for the Queen before setting out, the court heard.”

Belfast Telegraph: Man On Terror Charges Over Dissident Republican Weapons Dumps

“A man has been charged with a number of terror offences linked to dissident republican weapons dumps stocked by a rogue Royal Marine. The 29-year-old man, who was arrested in the north west of Northern Ireland on Tuesday, is due to appear before a district judge in Ballymena, Co Antrim, on Thursday. The charges are connected to an investigation into the discovery of weapons in two forest parks and a number of other sites near Larne, Co Antrim. A dissident republican who infiltrated the British military was last year sentenced to 18 years in prison for supplying and building bombs found at the sites. Former Royal Marine Ciaran Maxwell stashed anti-personnel mines, mortars, ammunition and 14 pipe bombs – four of which were later used – in 43 purpose-built hides at eight locations in Northern Ireland and England, including hauls buried in barrels at Carnfunnock and Capanagh forest parks near Larne. Maxwell, originally from Larne, was a serving member 40 Commando based at Norton Manor Camp in Taunton, Somerset, at the time of the offences. He was sentenced at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to preparation of terrorist acts between January 2011 and August 2016, possessing images of bank cards for fraud and possessing cannabis with intent to supply.”


U.S. News & World Report: France Says Islamic State Not Wiped From Map, Troops To Remain In Syria

“France will keep its troops in northern Syria for now because Islamic State militants have not been wiped out and continue to pose a threat to French interests, officials said. France is a leading member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting militants in Syria and Iraq and has around 1,000 troops including special forces based in the north of the country, deployed alongside local Kurdish and Arab forces. French diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw all its 2,000 troops from the region had taken Paris by surprise. U.S. officials justified the decision by saying Islamic State had been entirely defeated. "It shows that we can have different priorities and that we must count on ourselves first," Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau told C-News television. "For now, of course we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential." France is especially sensitive to the Islamic State threat after several major attacks on its soil in recent years. Hundreds of French nationals have joined the group in Syria. Defence Minister Florence Parly acknowledged on Twitter that the militant group had been weakened and lost some 90 percent of its territory, but said the battle was not over. "Islamic State has not been wiped from the map nor have its roots. The last pockets of this terrorist organization must be defeated militarily once and for all," she said. President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Trump on Wednesday, diplomats said.”


The Wall Street Journal: German Police Investigate Officers Over Far-Right Extremism

“German police are investigating a far-right conspiracy within the ranks of local police as well as threats against lawyers representing migrants, the latest instance of rising tension around immigration in the country. The probe is taking place against a backdrop of political wrangling over the arrival of nearly two million refugees in the country since 2015. Right-wing groups such as the opposition party Alternative for Germany have argued that the influx has led to rising crime. Police in Frankfurt said last week they were investigating five officers suspected of extremist tendencies and of being linked to a wave of anonymous threats sent to lawyers. The probe was triggered by an anonymous fax sent to a prominent lawyer in August that contained threats against her daughter. The message included the lawyer’s private address—confidential information that investigators believe was obtained by an officer with access to a police databank. The police are also investigating similar incidents in recent weeks in which lawyers received threats relating to their work representing immigrants or Muslims. The anonymous threats were signed NSU 2.0 in what investigators believe is a reference to a neo-Nazi terror group that called itself National Socialist Underground. The NSU, whose suspected leaders are now dead or behind bars, was found to be behind 10 murders of immigrants and police in the last decade. Seda Basay-Yildiz, the lawyer who received threats against her daughter, represented two of the NSU’s victims at the main trial against a surviving member of the group.”


The Jerusalem Post: Some EU Members Want To Outlaw All Of Hezbollah, Says EU Counter-Terror Chief

“The European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator, Giles de Kerchove, said in an interview last week that after Hezbollah operatives murdered five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver in 2012, some European countries sought to classify the entire Lebanese Shi’ite organization as a foreign terrorist entity. De Kerchove told the Brussels-based media outlet EURACTIV, which asked a question in response to an exclusive report from The Jerusalem Post: “Why is it that the military branch was put on the terrorist list – it’s because there were divided views, some member states put the whole organization and some member states think that Hezbollah is important for the political and social fabric of Lebanon and they want to keep a line open to keep talking to Hezbollah as a political actor in the Lebanese context.”

The Guardian: Returning Jihadists 'Threaten New Wave Of Terror In Europe'

“Europe is facing a new wave of terrorism as radicalised individuals return and jihadists are released from jail, the general secretary of Interpol has warned. Jürgen Stock, Interpol’s chief, who is also a criminologist and law enforcement officer from Germany, said: “We could soon be facing a second wave of other Islamic State linked or radicalised individuals that you might call Isis 2.0. “A lot of these are suspected terrorists or those who are linked to terrorist groups as supporters who are facing maybe two to five years in jail. Because they were not convicted of a concrete terrorist attack but only support for terrorist activities, their sentences are perhaps not so heavy. “In many parts of the world, in Europe but also Asia, this generation of early supporters will be released in the next couple of years, and they may again be part of a terrorist group or those supporting terrorist activities.” Europe, and particularly France, has had a series of serious Islamist-linked terror attacks since 2014, including the assaults that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015. He added: “We know that radicalisation takes place in prison and the very recent attack in Strasbourg, France, is another example.” Stock, speaking to the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris, said Interpol had a database of about 45,000 suspected foreign jihadists but said that locating them was a challenge for police and security agencies.”

Breitbart News: Swedish Cities Lose Track Of Returning ISIS Fighters

“Half of Sweden’s 300 Islamic State fighters have returned from the Middle East, but a survey has revealed several municipalities have little idea who among their residents are former fighters. The survey found that out of the municipalities believed to be the homes of the 150 returnees, the local authorities could only identify 16 adults and ten children, Swedish public broadcaster SVT reports. The cities and municipalities of Malmö, Borås Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Örebro saw the most fighters leave to fight with the terror group. Estimates state that in Gothenburg and Västra Götaland, the number of returnees is somewhere in the dozens, but Gothenburg could only name ten adults and eight minors that they were aware of. Stockholm, which identified one individual who turned out to live in another municipality, is thought to have 35 to 40. The heavily migrant populated city of Malmö is thought to have at least 15 returnees, although the city did not answer the survey. Terrorist researcher Magnus Ranstorp said the survey showed there was a “deep culture of silence” in areas such as those in Stockholm where some locals are unwilling to speak to police and other authorities about returning fighters. Ranstorp slammed the government saying the fighters presented a very real security risk and the government needed to do more to act and prosecute fighters if they engaged in terrorism overseas. “They return, and their threshold of violence is totally different.”

Southeast Asia

Reuters: Indonesia Uses Tougher Anti-Terror Law To Detain Suspects For Holidays

“Indonesian police have detained about 20 suspected militants as security is stepped up ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, a commander said on Thursday. National police chief Tito Karnavian said the detentions were made preventively under a revised anti-terrorism law approved in May, after suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State killed more than 30 people in the city of Surabaya. “There is no information yet about terror acts over Christmas and New Year’s but we are taking proactive steps including these arrests,” Karnavian told reporters. Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has struggled to contain a resurgence in militancy and scores of Indonesians have traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State group. Near-simultaneous attacks on churches in the capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere on Christmas Eve in 2000, killed nearly 20 people. Ever since, authorities have stepped up security at churches and tourist spots for the holiday. Karnavian did not identify any of the suspects but said they were detained in various parts of the country. Under the revised law, anyone suspected of planning an attack can be held for up to 21 days for an initial inquiry and for up to 200 days for a formal investigation.”


The New York Times: Facebook Rebuked For Failing To Disclose Data-Sharing Deals

“Facebook and some of the other largest technology firms in the world faced sharp criticism on Wednesday for failing to disclose the extent of its data-sharing deals, many of which went back to the social network’s early years. Details of the deals, revealed in a New York Times report on Tuesday, set in motion a fresh round of rebukes from legislators who had singled out Facebook’s sharing practices in the recent past. And they came at a moment when the Trump administration, Congress and even some Silicon Valley executives are calling for stricter privacy laws that would govern Facebook and other businesses that trade in huge amounts of personal information. Lawmakers in the United States and Britain on Wednesday called for greater oversight of Facebook, the world’s dominant social media platform. But critics also focused on statements that Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, had made in recent months while defending the company.”

The Wall Street Journal: D.C. Attorney General Files Suit Against Facebook Over Privacy

“The District of Columbia attorney general filed suit against Facebook on Wednesday, alleging the company “failed to protect the privacy of its users” in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement that the company also deceived users “about who had access to their data and how it was used.” Shares of Facebook were down about 6% Wednesday on the news of the suit. Mr. Racine’s suit—the first significant action by an attorney general against the social-media giant in the scandal—alleges that Facebook’s lax oversight and misleading privacy settings allowed a researcher to use the platform to harvest millions of users’ personal information without their permission and then sell it to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm. Cambridge Analytica then used the data to help presidential campaigns target voters based on their personal traits, according to Mr. Racine’s suit.”

The New York Times: How To Delete Facebook

“You may have decided enough is enough: It’s time to delete Facebook. There have been months — or is it years now? — of bad news about the social network. In October, Facebook revealed that a security vulnerability exposed up to 50 million accounts to being hijacked by hackers. Through the vulnerability, a hacker could take over your account — meaning anything you ever posted on Facebook, or even apps that you connected with using your Facebook account, could have been infiltrated. “People’s privacy and security is incredibly important, and we’re sorry this happened,” the company said at the time. “It’s why we took immediate action to secure people’s accounts and fix the vulnerability.” The breach followed a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, the voter-profiling firm that got its hands on the private data belonging to millions of Facebook users. More recently, The New York Times reported that Facebook gave other technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it had previously disclosed.”

The New York Times: 5 Ways Facebook Shared Your Data

“Facebook for years gave major tech companies, including Yahoo and Netflix, greater access to people’s data than it disclosed, a New York Times investigation found. The partnerships helped Facebook draw new users, ramp up its advertising revenue and embed itself on sites across the web. This is how some of the key deals worked. In 2011, when Yahoo and Facebook announced their partnership, social networking features were seen as crucial to attracting users to existing websites. In a news release that September, Yahoo announced that it was “putting people’s friends front and center to usher in an innovative way of connecting around content socially.”

Terror Financing

Alwatan: Syria: Terrorist Thefts Of Antiquities On The Rise

“News headlines yesterday reported the arrival of Syrian Army reinforcements to the front lines in the western rural areas of Aleppo, cutting it off it from Nusra Front and its affiliates. This comes as terrorists continue to plunder antiquities from archaeological sites outside of Hama and Idlib. For its part, the opposition-aligned Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an increased number of both random and systematic archaeological excavations in 2018 in areas controlled by armed militias and terrorist organizations. It claimed terrorists have been using an advanced device for detecting antiquities, which is sold for several hundred dollars apiece. This device replaces the explosives and mines used {traditionally} in the search for antiquities. The Observatory pointed to the involvement of armed militias in this activity, due to their lack of resources and their need to find sources to finance themselves. The Observatory monitored three major archaeological excavations in Idlib; the first in the area of Babisqa, located on the border with Iskenderun, in the northern rural area of Idlib; two other excavations were carried out in Bab Al-Amoud and Al-Khatib. This is in addition to other sites excavated by the "Ahrar Al Sham" group and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the present-day façade for Nusra. The Syrian Observatory claimed that the value of the antiquities looted by terrorists is estimated at around $200 million dollars.”

Counter Terrorism

Alittihad: Tunisia Dismantles Terrorist Cell

“The Tunisian Ministry of Interior Affairs announced on Wednesday the capture of members of a radical Islamist cell affiliated with the "Brigade of Jihad and Unity." The ministry added that the counterterrorism unit operating in the central province of Sidi Bouzid managed to uncover the cell and arrest all its members. The group, which pledged allegiance to an unidentified extremist organization abroad, planned to attack security posts and patrols, the ministry {spokesman} added. During the operation, the security forces seized an explosive belt, grenades and bomb-making material that were at the disposal of the terrorist cell, according to an official statement.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Arab Youm: Expert: Muslim Brotherhood Still Possesses Millions Of Pounds In Egypt

“Sameh Eid, a dissident Muslim Brotherhood leader and present-day independent researcher on Islamic movements, said that by following up the decisions made by the governmental committee tasked with confiscating and managing the funds and assets of the entities and persons classified as "terrorist," one can discern that the banned Muslim Brotherhood has been using new, diversified mechanisms to manage its financial assets. These monetary ruses are intended to prevent the security crackdowns from affecting the group's activities, particularly its media incitement campaigns abroad and its domestic acts of hostility. Eid explained that the outlawed Islamist group had expedited the transfer of its liquid assets outside the country by employing novel tricks. The group had also concealed part of its wealth inside Egypt by signing joint ventures with dozens of companies and business people who have no direct ties {and cannot be traced back} to the Brotherhood. These practices substantially complicate the detection of the group's assets and money, the expert emphasized. He stressed that despite appropriating an unprecedented number of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated companies, individuals and charity associations by the aforementioned state committee, the organization continues to hold multimillion-pound valued assets in Egypt.”

Okaz: 20 Muslim Brotherhood-Linked Books Taken Off The Shelves Of A Scientific Institute In Asir, Saudi Arabia

“An informed source revealed that the management of a scientific institute in Asir, Saudi Arabia took off its shelves 20 books linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The same source stated that the banned books featured prominent figures of the Brotherhood including Sayyid Qutb, a highly influential {radical} Islamic thinker, and Yousef Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamic theologian based in Doha. The books were sent to a specialized commission at the Al-Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University. It's noteworthy that this same commission had previously issued a sweeping statement to all educational institutions in Saudi Arabia asking them to remove any books dealing with extremist ideologies or outlawed movements, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.”


Albawabh News: Houthis Loot Shops In Hezyaz Market

“Houthi militants in Senhan district in Sana'a province looted shops in the Hezyaz market south of the capital. Militias robbed shop owners on the pretext of their shops being overcrowded, but observers say these actions come in the context of the Houthis' campaign to forcibly collect royalties and restrict citizens' sources of income.”

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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